This oft-recited quote of biblical origins ends with the grim reminder of one’s mortality, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” The irony is that health and mortality is usually the last thing on a person’s mind when they dine. For far too many, the order of dietary priority seems to be pleasure first and health second.
The reasons given for poor dietary choices are manifold, but time and money are frequently cited. These are two of the most valuable resources to humankind, as well as the two biggest excuses as to why people are unable to eat a healthy diet. The easiest, most convenient foods, are often the most unhealthy, and to the dismay of the waistline, the tastiest.
Pizza, hot dogs, and beer can be found on the menu at any sporting event throughout the 50 states. Fast food restaurants are ubiquitous, plus candy and desserts omnipresent, while healthy fresh fruits and vegetables are perishable and pricey. The quick and cheap order at the drive-thru after work seems a lot more opportune than a grocery run, to shop for the ingredients to make that healthy robust green salad. A diet consisting of greens, fruits, and lean protein does not provide the instant gratification of unhealthy foods doused with white sugar and saturated fats.
Time is also at a premium. Many of today’s professionals lead extremely busy, yet sedentary lifestyles. This combination is toxic for health and wellbeing, especially when joined with poor eating habits. The seven hours spent at a desk, behind a computer screen, can be costly when it comes at the expense of physical activity. To make matters worse, those 30 minutes spent at the gym, before or after work, may not yield the healthy results envisioned.
In the April 2015 edition, The British Journal of Sports Medicine cites a report from the U.K. Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, affirming that burgeoning bellies cannot be eliminated by exercise alone. “In the past 30 years, as obesity has rocketed, there has been little change in physical activity levels in the Western population. This places the blame for our expanding waistlines directly on the type and amount of calories consumed.”
Therefore, the idea that one can burn off a pint of ice cream or chili cheese fries with 10 extra minutes on the elliptical is simply ill-conceived. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 34.9 percent (approx. 75 million people) of the American population can be labeled obese. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) reports that for adults aged 20 and older, every 3 out of 4 men are overweight. The upshot of these alarming numbers can be boiled down to the fact some people are quite content to eat junk food regardless of the toll it takes on their lifespan.
Most overweight or obese individuals do not need these statistics to understand their predicament. It does not require a Master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics to recognize that the constant ingestion of grease and high fructose corn syrup will cause dietary and digestive problems. No, for many the issue is one of motivation, not ignorance. The solution to this epidemic of obesity is not elusive, only unsavory. People do not enjoy giving up their favorite foods, for some, it is the highlight of their day. But it just might be more beneficial to eat, drink, and be miserable with healthier choices because in doing so tomorrow they live.
By Justin Brown
Edited by Jeanette Smith & Cathy Milne
Br J Sports Med: It is time to bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity: you cannot outrun a bad diet
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Summary health statistics for U.S. adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2010
National Institute of Health: Overweight and Obesity Statistics/ National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Image Courtesy of TiggerT’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License